Tekamah- Herman- Decatur: Walking Together, Doing God’s Work

Tekamah-Herman-Decatur Church Community Council (THDCCC) has come together to do God’s Work.

THDCCC’s mission is to meet the needs of the community beyond any one church. Though their mission statement was adopted in February of 2015, the THDCCC was actually started back in the 1980’s. This community council currently consists of the pastor and one lay member from each of the following congregations: Baptist Church-Tekamah, Baptist Church-Riverside, Catholic Church-Tekamah, Catholic Church-Decatur, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Methodist Church-Tekamah, Methodist Church-Decatur, and the Presbyterian Church.

One of the main focuses of the THDCCC is the Food Pantry for those less fortunate in the area. In 2020 they were able to obtain their own building and moved into a new permanent location at 209 S 9th St. This new facility has allowed the community council to expand their efforts. In 2020, they helped an average of 36 families a month. In December of 2020 they also gave food boxes to 70 families.

The THDCCC was also able to open the Helping Hands Thrift Store in late October 2020. Sharing the same building as the Food Pantry, the thrift store is open Fridays 9-5 and Saturdays 9-1pm. With the generous donations they have received, the thrift store has had a very successful beginning. All proceeds from the thrift shop are reinvested into the food pantry and the community. Since the opening of the store many volunteers have spent endless hours building displays, creating storage areas to sort the donations, and running the store. Along with their Christmas boxes of food previously mentioned, they added gift certificates to the Thrift Shop for over 70 families. In this joint effort of the THDCCC and the community, God’s work is being done each week.

In mid-March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic the THDCCC was called upon to collaborate with The Tekamah Herman School and Chatterbox (a local restaurant) to continue feeding the school children twice a day. It was a Sunday evening when the call came. By Tuesday morning they began to serve Breakfast and Lunch to the students. The numbers quickly grew and for the next 9 weeks well over 200 meals a day were served. Since the pandemic had closed the in-house dining at the Chatterbox it was the perfect place to plan and prepare the meals. The food pantry helped to provide the food along with the school, and the teachers organized and provided the cooks and servers. The community stepped up to help provide baked goods and financial backing. The donations would pour in everyday! The local grocery store provided the lunch every Tuesday and even the local Volunteer Fire Department provided a meal. To see this community come together for this purpose was an amazing experience.

At the end of the school year the THDCCC moved the meal program to Emmanuel Lutheran Church. They continued the program serving 2 meals a week throughout the summer. When they were done, over 9,000 meals had been distributed. This program took a tremendous amount of willing volunteer’s and financial support to be successful. Again, God’s work was being done.

In 2020 they were unable to have National Day of Prayer (NDP), Baccalaureate, and Thanksgiving service in person. Instead, as a THDCCC, they came together and recorded Video Services with all churches participating and uploading them online for all to enjoy. In 2021 they also created a video for NDP, and fortunately for 2021 the THDCCC was able to have Baccalaureate in person.

Most recently, in mid-June 2021, THDCCC held Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Emmanuel Lutheran Church. What a wonderful experience! Sunday through Thursday 60 kids attended VBS, and they had approximately 20 volunteers to assist. Pastors from four of the community churches, and kids from multiple denominations, sharing together in a common faith. Worshipping God, Praising God, and learning the meaning of “Trust God”, which was their theme for this year.

Vicar Rex Rogers shared this- “From a VBS perspective, my first experience in this call, put things in another perspective for me. Sometimes we are so quick to judge our youth. We question the decisions they make, their priorities, or the way they act. However, I witnessed a bright future for our community and our churches. These kids were focused, engaged, and were not afraid to proclaim God’s word loud and proud with each other. Being in tribes with kids they knew, and perhaps kids they just met for the first time. Kids worshipping together in different age groups up to the sixth-grade level. Interacting well with pastors, group leaders, and other volunteers. I think we can be assured that God’s word will continue to be proclaimed into future generations.”

The THDCCC has been blessed with great support from their community, local clubs, individuals, and churches. It is amazing to see the things that can happen in communities when we all pull together to do “God’s work. Our hands”.

*Respectfully Submitted with input from THDCCC Lutheran lay member Patty Olson, who by the way was just named Volunteer of the Year by the Mainstreet Nebraska Association for all her efforts in coordinating several of these efforts. Story by Vicar Rex Rogers, Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Tekamah.